Newcastle Benfield v Seaham Red Star, Wednesday 23rd March 2022, 7.30pm

I’ve been steadily working my way through the Northern League grounds and this game, at an hour’s drive away, was the nearest option this evening. I could have got to Benfield Park a little quicker if I’d used the Tyne Tunnel but now that they’ve taken away the option to do anything other than pay online I can’t be arsed with remembering and then making the payment once I’ve got back home.

The game was between Newcastle Benfield and Seaham Red Star in the Northern League Division 1 Cup. I’d never heard of the competition before, but there’s lots of things that I haven’t heard of so that’s no reflection on the prestige of the competition.

It was six pounds in and another two for a programme. Benfield Park is a decent ground. There were two covered stands that each seated about a hundred people, a couple of raised terrace areas, a hospitality suite, and a clubhouse. There was also a tea hut where I got a Bovril and almost killed myself with salt poisoning. Someone should invent a version that replaces the salt with pepper.

Bizarrely, there were also a couple of outdoor gym areas just in case anyone wanted to do some pedalling or pummel a punch bag.

Newcastle Benfield were in blue and white stripes with Seaham Red Star in red and white. Newcastle created the better chances in the first half but the away goalie was equal to them. There were a few tackles flying in, but I thought the ref controlled the game well despite the constant moaning at him from both sides. After one altercation he ordered the two miscreants to come to him and he gave them an enormous bollocking that all of the 131 people in the crowd were able to hear. A nice alternative to a couple of yellow cards.

I switched seats at half time and moved to the other side of the pitch. That stand is behind the dugouts, so I got the moaning by the management teams closer up. Seaham took the lead from a penalty early on in the second half, but Newcastle equalised with around twenty minutes to go and then nicked a winner close to the end. By this time the ref had started supplementing his bollockings with cards and the visitors finished a man down.

It was another enjoyable evening out, just sitting quietly waiting for a bit of skill beyond expectations and with the lack of tension that comes from not caring which team wins.

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